By Marianne Lavelle, Judy Fahys
The largest U.S. oil industry trade group is considering an endorsement of carbon taxes for the first time. But the biggest news may be how little that is likely to matter, as U.S. climate policy moves decisively in an entirely different direction.
The American Petroleum Institute confirmed that its member companies are trying to arrive at a consensus about carbon pricing—a position that almost certainly will involve trade-offs, including less government regulation, in exchange for the industry’s support of taxes or fees.
Economists have long favored making fossil fuels more expensive by putting a price on carbon as the most simple and cost-effective way to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Most big oil companies, including ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, and Chevron, endorse carbon pricing, although they have done little to push for it becoming policy. But API’s move for an industry-wide position comes just as the Biden administration has made clear that it is moving forward with regulation, investment in clean energy research and deployment and a broad suite of other government actions to hasten a transition from energy that releases planet-warming pollution.
Unsurprisingly, many view the API move as a cynical effort to stave off a looming green onslaught. “The American Petroleum Institute is considering backing a carbon tax — but only to prevent ambitious regulation of greenhouse emissions,” tweeted the Center for Biological Diversity.